Love Song for Baby X: How I Stayed (Almost) Sane
on the Rocky Road to Parenthood
by Cheryl Dumesnil
246 pages, Ig Press
Forget Hallmark Card expressions of loss or tired messages about grief: Cheryl Dumesnil gives readers a fresh account of pregnancy and miscarriage in the memoir Love Song for Baby X. Confronting the emotional and physical details of her first four pregnancies (three of which end in miscarriage), readers get an intimate look into the hopes, fears and medical realities that attend her as she struggles to maintain a pregnancy to term.
Sharing the personal picture of such painful loss while creating a thoroughly engaging read might seem impossible. Not so with Love Song. Dumesnil, an award-winning poet, accomplishes this Herculean task with grace as well as humor, inviting the reader into all aspects of her health and heart. In the aftermath of the first failed pregnancy she writes:
…There’s no baby. I’m okay.
I find the parking garage elevator, I press the up arrow;
I wait for the doors to open. I step in, I press the button
marked three, it lights up, the doors close.
Normal things like this keep happening.
On the third floor, the doors open, I step out, I find my car.
See? I’m okay.
She isn’t afraid to share just how absurd the process of getting pregnant can be either:
”…Undoubtedly, no matter how it happens, the act of creating a human being is a deeply spiritual experience, but when you introduce these mechanics, it seems a little more like a comedy show, like telling knock-knock jokes in the middle of a temple full of chanting monks. Somehow science – the same science that makes our future family possible – feels like an interloper in my conception dream.”
In the memoir, the events of the pregnancy are paralleled by another struggle: the rights of same-sex couples to be legally married in the United States. One of Dumesnil’s pregnancies occurs at the same time as the San Francisco City Hall marriages in 2004 (the “Winter of Love”). Cheryl and her spouse Tracie are married there during this period and once again, Dumesnil invites the reader in to share the experience while openly confronting the realities her “future family” will face.
Despite the emotional rollercoaster the author endures, the writing is so compelling that readers will not want to turn away from the story until the rocky ride ends. This is a book for those who want not only a description of what really happens during miscarriages, but who want to see a successful navigation through the highs, lows, and unknowns of pregnancy. Love Song for Baby X details the strength of will and powerful faith that mothers must have to bring their babies into the world – and tells us how they survive that journey with their souls intact.
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